Potash and its role in plant nutrition
Potash is a key irreplaceable plant nutrient. It comes to plants as K+ ion and accumulates mainly in vacuole and cytoplasm without forming organic matter in cells. Like nitrogen, potash is absorbed by plants in significantly larger quantities than any other nutrient. The role of potash in the vital functions of plants is versatile:
- Participation in Metabolism
Potash is a catalyst for many physiological and biochemical processes in plants. It is proactive in photosynthesis and formation of energy-high compounds (EHC), boosts vegetative growth and carries organic matter along the plant body.
- Resistance to Lodging
Potash participates in the formation of plant cell walls and increases pectin and cellulose, thickens caulis and reinforces cell walls, rendering plants more resistant to lodging, particularly by nitrogen-high nutrition.
- Resistance to diseases and pests
Harder cell walls serve to increase resistance to agricultural pests and diseases. When applied, potash fertilizer curbs accumulation of plain organic compounds on which pests live. Plants receiving much potash show better resistance to pathogens.
- Higher Frost-Resistance and Winter-Hardiness
As winter comes, plants well-supplied with potash appear to be more robust and with a better developed rootage. Potash helps accumulate organic compounds in vacuoles, enhancing plants’ winter-hardiness and their resistance to spring and autumn frosts.
- Regulation of Water Intake
Potash is a key element to preserve water in cells and boost turgor. It regulates opening and closing of stomata and increases osmotic pressure of cellular fluid, curbing water evaporation and enhancing efficiency of water utilization by a cell. Plants well-supplied with potash take in less soil water and are more resistant to drought. Potash fertilizers work drastically better when plants get enough water, therefore in areas with intensive irrigation they use significantly less water in agriculture.
- Participation in Metabolism of Nitrogen
Potash helps better absorption of nitrogen by plants which curbs potential loss of nitrogen to the deeper soil layers and ground waters, and helps avoid volatilization of gaseous nitrogen into the atmosphere thus preventing environmental pollution. Potash activates the ferments which participate in the metabolism of nitrogen, and so influences its efficiency, curbs accumulation of nitrate, amide and other non-organic nitrogen compounds and toxic substances in plants.
- Impact on Crops Quality
Potash is active in the metabolism of plants. It triggers over 60 ferments being one of the basic nutrients influencing the quality of farm produce:
1. By activating ferments which take part in the metabolism of nitrogen, potash increases proteins in wheat, barley, rice and in the seeds of pulse crops.
2. Potash stimulates the accumulation of the vegetative mass and participates in transporting nutrients thus assisting to increase sucrose in sugar beet roots and sugar cane stems.
3. Potash fertilizers increase starch in potatoes, rice grains, corn green mass, etc.
4. Potash promotes the accumulation of fat in the seeds of sunflower, rapeseed, fruits of palm and olive trees and other oil crops.
5. Helps increase sugars, vitamin C, B1, carotene, organic acids potash, and so improves taste, colour and pulp consistency of berries and fruit.
6. Potash strengthens cell walls thus increasing the resistance of products to mechanical damage during transportation and storage.
7. Potash strengthens and lengthens fiber in cotton, flax and other technical crops plants.
8. An appropriate amount of potash in plants decreases reducing sugars in potatoes and alpha amine nitrogen in sugar beet roots, and also prevents the accumulation of nitrates in farming products.
9. Potash fertilizers curb radionuclide accumulation in plants.